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The “Vyatskoye” Historical and Cultural Museum Complex Founder Oleg Zharov’s Open Letter

The open letter is published in the first person.

To favorite supporters, constructive opponents of the Multimedia Museum of the New chronology, as well as all the haters of private museums in Russia.

“Our town is quiet and small. Half of its dwellers reads Pasternak, and the other half adores Brodsky’s poetry. This is the reason for all the fights in the city!»

Dear friends and colleagues! Let me inform you from the very beginning that I am not a public person, and this is my first and last comment on this topic, as I am observing a certain trend aimed at discrediting private museums, which I cannot stand leaving without attention.

In March 2020, there was released a program “In the Meanwhile. Meanings” anchored by Alexander Arkhangelsky which was dedicated to the topic: “Education of the people VS entertainment of the public”.

In the description of the issue, it is reported that “the scandal caused by the opening of the “Museum of the New Chronology” in Yaroslavl raised the question of the limits of the permissibility of multimedia in the Museum space.” The program also posed an incorrect and provocative question: “Does the viewer have the right to choose a private anti-historical attraction instead of a state scientific exhibition? Or is it the viewer’s right to a myth which is higher than the duty to restore historical truth?” What can I say!? These questions are actually the answers at the same time! It would seem that there is nothing to discuss!? But the whole program is steeped in bile towards all private museums!

I was surprised that all the participants of the program are acquainted with me and we have mutual contacts. I fully understand the motives that guided each participant of the program, and I would have been happy to answer them on each point, but, alas, I was not invited!?

I had been watching the attacks on the Museum of the New Chronology and on me personally for several months,. Today there are calls to expel me from the professional community, to cancel the merits in the restoration of the village of Vyatskoye. They want to take away the State Prize of the Russian Federation, presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin, invalidate the receipt of the INTERMUSEUM-2015 Grand Prix and  deprive me of the results of the UNESCO General Conference held in Paris, with the decision to include Vyatskoye in the preliminary UNESCO World Heritage List. I even read calls to burn down the museum together with its founders.

I would have ignored these statements with a smile, but some time ago a petition was published to the Governor of the Yaroslavl region Dmitry Mironov from a lady named Anastasia Kostikova with the collection of signatures demanding the closure of the Museum, which was preceded by a statement by ataman Semenov, clearly written under someone’s dictation?! More recently, there were Cossack pickets demanding the closure of the Museum.

This petition sarcastically makes a pathetic attempt at pseudo-analysis of the New chronology. Let it be so , we have read quite a number of them, but I can’t remain silent when they openly deceive people, claiming that “The Kurakins’ House Museum”, located in the historical centre of Yaroslavl, was given by the authorities (?!) as a Multimedia Museum of the New chronology. Does anyone know about “The Kurakins’ House Museum”? Where are you from, Ms. Kostikova? have you ever been to Yaroslavl? Exclusively for you, I inform you that there has never been a “Kurakins House Museum” in Yaroslavl, and for the past ten years this building has been a private institution, popularly known as ” assignation house” with a bathhouse and rooms! Therefore, neither the government nor the Governor could transfer the building, since they were never its owner. This building was purchased by us at the market price from a private owner. Therefore, I perceive this as an attempt to discredit the Governor, as an attempt to push the founders of the Museum against the authorities. I have always maintained that the creation of the Museum is our private initiative, and the government has nothing to do with it!

It seems to me that this is not about the Museum theme (although it is also about it?!), but about systematic attacks on private museums in general. In fact, a crusade against private museums has been declared. Alexander Arkhangelsky’s program on the Kultura TV channel, Kostikova’s petition, the Cossack pickets at the Museum, and the initiation of all sorts of checks with attempts to initiate criminal cases for providing false information, extremism, and insulting the feelings of believers are all links in the same chain.

Museum and collecting are hobbies that I do in my spare time. I do not undertake to judge whether to consider me a member of the professional Museum community. Mikhail Piotrovsky is my authority in this field. Notice that Mikhail Borisovich insisted on awarding me and my peers the State prize of the Russian Federation and made amendments in the Charter of the Union of museums of Russia, so we first entered the Union not having a status of a state museum.

In addition, the “Vyatskoye” Historical and Cultural Museum Complex is registered in the State Catalog of museums of the Russian Federation, and more than 1000 Museum exhibits are registered in the Museum Fund of Russia.

All projects have always been implemented by me at my own expense. I do not use budget money in principle and always measure my creative plans with my personal financial capabilities. Believe me, there is a huge distance between working for a salary under a contract and on your own initiative for your own money. By nature, I am a statesman, but not because I receive a salary from the state, but because I do everything in the interests of the state. For some reason, the participants of the discussion did not look in and did not tell about the charity Museum exhibition dedicated to the Year of Memory and Glory, opened in our Modern Art Museum “House of Muses”. The Museum is open for free throughout this year. But this, apparently, is not interesting!? It is much easier to be smart at the state expense!

Meanwhile there is an attempt to discredit private museums behind the humiliating terms “Pop museum “or” museum with a touch”, there are calls for museum monopolization, where the presence of the prefix “state” in the name of a museum is a sign of quality. Is the state management of cultural heritage so effective? Turning to the author of this opinion, Mr. Sazonov, I could describe all the mistakes and shortcomings on many issues of the Rostov Kremlin entrusted to him, but corporate ethics does not allow me to make this public!

Or a much more illustrative example, the chapel is the ancestral tomb of the Nekrasovs in the village of Abbakumtsevo, built at the writer’s expense. Let’s not forget that next year we will celebrate 200 years since the birth of N. A. Nekrasov. How can you not love your Homeland or hate the great Russian poet to bring the situation to such a disgrace! In 2012, there was a sewer pit inside the tomb, where everything was physically and spiritually destroyed, including paintings. I had to become the happy owner of this cultural heritage site to restore both the crypt and the grave of the poet’s mother.

Although I would like to return this object to the state, I don’t know to whom? There are big fears that in two or three years everything will return to normal. And you, my dear readers, know much more about such examples of “effective” state management of cultural heritage sites than I do.

Now sprightly to the Multimedia Museum of New chronology in Yaroslavl and why I took it up. Implementing this project, I assumed all the ambiguity and scandalous theory. I foresaw a number of negative consequences for myself. I have never made a secret of the Museum’s theme, and therefore informed almost all interested parties at all levels of government about the beginning of work and the opening of the Museum. This is not done out of fear, but only to assess the relevance of the topic at this historical moment. Just listen to some of the statements of Russian President Vladimir Putin on historical topics, and you can understand how this correlates with the theme of the Museum. Or read the latest article on September 15 of the current year in the Military-industrial courier MIC, written by academician Sergei Glazyev – by the way, not a mathematician. You can learn a lot of interesting things!

For me, the most authoritative scientists are the predecessors and founders of the New chronology – Isaac Newton, Mikhail Lomonosov, Nikolai Morozov and its supporters: Lev Gumilev, Alexander Zinoviev, – rather than the Germans who wrote the history of Russia, not knowing the Russian language, or historians who wrote the history of the CPSU. And how can we not support a theory that magnifies the role of our country in world history and elevates the role of the Russian Orthodox Church to the dominant world religion? And this is not pseudo-patriotism, this is true love for the Motherland, for its history. Not so long ago, Yuri Polyakov put it absolutely correctly that there was a queue for budget patriotism. We are not in this queue!

The new chronology is a theory that was created since 1973 under the guidance of Anatoly Timofeevich Fomenko by a group of mathematicians from Moscow State University, whose task is to correctly order events on the timeline according to the information available to us. The methods of purely humanitarian sciences for solving chronological problems are insufficient, and the generally accepted chronology and history of the ancient and medieval world created in the XVI century seem to contain major errors. Understanding the theory Oof new chronology by A. T. Fomenko and G. V. Nosovsky requires a lot of work and a lot of knowledge. At least, you will need to study several modern sections of mathematics, statistics, astronomy and, of course, update all available knowledge about history. This theory is close and clear to me, since I was major in mathematics at the university.

I do not want to discuss the theory of the New chronology in detail here, but I will only note that it is necessary to see the line between the scientific theory of the New chronology and the “devilry” around the New chronology that fills the Internet space.

Imagine a situation when the author of the New chronology Anatoly Fomenko in the early 1980’s reported on the slanders of academic historians who wrote the history of the CPSU, in the offices of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The decision was made at the very top by the top officials of the state: “The Central Committee of the CPSU does not participate in scientific disputes!”. And this was during the so-called stagnation. There were also attempts to deprive Anatoly Fomenko of the title of a full member of the Academy of Sciences. Today, after almost 30 years, similar attempts are being made again in the new democratic Russia!? It’s hard to imagine…

I am sure that the Museum will become one of the best places of interest in Yaroslavl and attract a huge number of tourists to the city. In my opinion, Yaroslavl pulled out a lucky ticket. If there were no New chronology, according to which our city played a key role in the development of world civilization, it would have to be invented. Therefore, it is very unclear why there is such a sharply negative attitude to the scientific theory of some of the Yaroslavl people!?

The Museum is not a propaganda machine for the New chronology. We ourselves have a lot of questions about the theory as a whole and about particular interpretations of historical facts. But we are trying to find out by organizing discussions and round tables. Creating this Museum is a new challenge for us. No one has ever made a Museum dedicated to scientific theory. Where it had success,  if to be judged by our visitors.

The opening of such an informal Museum has already caused a surge of emotions in social networks, which has generated a genuine interest in history in society. Come up with another solution that encourages the same interest in the story, and I’ll shake your hand. This is the main achievement of the Museum, which they want to present as a “museum with a touch” or “amusement ride”.

World history is famous by its many stages of scientific revolutions. Revolutionary changes have affected almost all branches of knowledge: mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology. Maybe it’s time for a revolutionary change in history?

What does the modern museum space look like in Russia?

It is diverse, in recent years we have seen a boom in the creation of private museums. There are forms of cooperation, but there is also unfair museum competition and, unfortunately, simple human envy. It is much easier to live in the old way, without changing anything, and grumble at the activity of private museums, than to adapt to a new generation of visitors.

Today, ICOM is actively discussing the new status of a modern museum, which involves the preservation of intangible culture, an active social position and active interaction with the local community. We have been working for a long time not only with the local community, but also with compatriots living outside the historical homeland. We are looking for new non-standard forms of interaction with other cultural institutions: with the Bolshoi Theater, the first Russian theater – the theater. F. Volkova, with the Russian Academy of Arts, with Soyuzmultfilm and others. Just the other day, we signed an agreement on full-scale cooperation with the State Historical Museum, which is also a testament to our professional competence.

Many people do not like the fact that Vyatskoye received the status of a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage List, arguing that there are many more worthy places in Russia. I do not even doubt it, but let’s not be proud of the local devastation, but take all possible steps so that these settlements become the pride of the country. And the first sign in the revival of territories can be a local museum.

To sum up the information said:

1. I appeal to Alexander Arkhangelsky: I am ready to take part in the discussion and, as the founder of one of the largest private museums, to defend the position of private museums, without giving them quotation marks and with an equal right to their existence.

2. I appeal to the Museum community: let’s cooperate constructively and instead of writing collective letters, petitions against private museums, slander and initiating criminal cases, I suggest that public and private museum organizations jointly develop a concept for the development of museums in Russia as a whole.

3. I will try to surprise you with new projects in the field of culture in the near future. And to all those who criticize, I offer a choice of several villages that are waiting for your effort, time, money and energy for their recovery. Believe me, only in the Yaroslavl region there are many worthy places: the villages of Sereda, Tolbukhino, Velikoe, Porechye-Rybnoye and others.

4. In the very near future, we will file a claim to the court against Ms. Kostikova for compensation for non-pecuniary damage in connection with the provision of false information.

Best regards,

Sincerely yours Oleg Zharov
The Russian Federation State Prize Laureate
The “Vyatskoye” Historical and Cultural Museum Complex

For the record: the prosecutor’s check initiated by the advocates for “historical justice” did not find any illegal activity.

The team of The Association of Private Museums of Russia participated  in the opening ceremony of the Museum of the New Chronology. The Museum makes visitors think and free oneself from obsolete stereotypes!